Muppets Super Beaker

Palisades has set the standard for show exclusives, particularly with their Muppets line and figures like Adventure Kermit. The release of the Fire Dogs set at this year's Wizard World Chicago was another hit, proving they can repeat their success across lines.

The San Diego Comic Con is the biggest show of the year, bringing in over 80,000 people. Everyone cracks out the best of the best for this show, and this year Palisades planned on having their Super Beaker figure as the show exclusive. I say planned because fate and bad fortune stepped in to botch up the works. The best laid plans of mice and men...

Poor Beaker didn't make it on time to the show, and Palisades was left holding the bucket. An empty one, not the one Beaker wears on his head. He did show up right after the show of course, and they have been selling him through the Collector's Club since. He's $15 with free shipping, but that offer is limited.

Packaging - ***1/2
I love the boxes used for the exclusives. They look great, they show off the figure nicely, the store easily, and stand up to shelf wear. The MIBBer couldn't ask for much more, as they are even completely collector friendly!

Sculpting - **
When you look at this figure, your first question should be - when in holy Hell did Beaker ever dress up like this? And the answer to that question is only in the weird and bizarre minds of the folks at Palisades. Now the Muppet purist might have an issue with this, since this version isn't any sort of 'canon'. But for those who don't clench their butt cheeks quite that tightly, this is a mighty cool concept.

When you think of Super Beaker, think bargain basement Rocketeer. He has all the right parts - helmet, rocket backpack, gloves - they're just made out of parts that make the stuff on Junkyard Wars look brand new. There's the bucket turned into a helmet, complete with 'fin', the oven mitt gloves, and the backpack of various junk pile parts, all cobbled together as only Bunsen Honeydew would. You can almost see him strapping it on Beaker, assuring him everything will be just fine. It won't explode. Probably. Maybe.

Beaker comes with three heads actually, to allow for three looks - normal, head half hidden in his turtleneck, and helmeted. All three sport great sculpts, and the overall general quality of the sculpt is what you've come to expect from Palisades. There's a ton of fine detail work, with nice texturing, and a good variety of textures between the various clothes and body parts.

So why the extremely low score, especially for a Muppet? Because of two major issues that annoyed me to no end. First, the right leg is longer than the left. No matter how I tried to position the legs and feet, the longer leg always tilted him to one side. There wasn't a single good standing pose I could find.

Second, Beaker suffers from the same soft plastic we saw in series 8 of the Muppets. That's a huge problem for him, since he has such spindly little legs. With the weight of the backpack and helmet, even if the legs did match up in length, he would wilt and tilt at the knees over time. Actually, it doesn't take much time - I found him bending over within a day.

There's no way to get Beaker to look good standing, or even keep him standing for very long. The only real display solution is to hang him with some fishing line in a flying pose, but while that works, it shouldn't be the only option.

Paint - ***
The paint detail and design are great, but Beaker suffers from the same tacky paint as series 8. I suspect it's an issue with the type of paint used in relation to this softer plastic, and it requires a longer cure time. The plant doesn't give it a longer cure time though, putting it in it's little plastic prison before it's completely dry. It will eventually cure on your shelf, but that may take several days to a couple weeks, after stewing in its own paint fumes for so long.

The choices of colors are excellent, and the ops themselves are cleaner than what we saw with the last set. I've seen three or four of these out of the box, and none had stray marks, wandering eyes or inconsistent colors. If Palisades can get this new plant (I'm betting this is the result of a different manufacturing plant being used for series 8 and Beaker) to not go with the softer plastic, most of the issues in the sculpting and paint categories would be solved.

Articulation - ***
Beaker has a decent amount of articulation, including neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, elbows, cut wrists at the mitts, waist, hips and ankles.

Unfortunately, due to the already mentioned problems, he has serious trouble standing on his own, so the leg articulation doesn't do you a whole lot of good.  Still, the number of points are better than average, and the arm articulation is extremely useful.

Accessories - ***1/2
Beaker comes with three heads in total, and his backpack. The jetpack looks great, and is very creative in design. It fits nicely on his back, and if his legs weren't the soft plastic, would balance just fine.

Of the three heads, the helmeted version is likely to be everyone's favorite. I also like the 'hiding' head, since that is Beaker's signature move, and I may end up displaying a second Super Beaker just to show off both of these versions. Don't get me wrong - the regular head looks great as well, but we already have several past versions of Beaker with a similar, normal head.

Each of the heads pops on and off easily enough, but don't fall off unexpectedly. Unlike his right foot, which on mine, doesn't want to seem to stay attached...

Fun Factor - **1/2
If Beaker could stand, and stay standing, you could add another whole star to this score. With a great look, nice articulation, and a unique design, he would make for some fun play - except for the irritation caused by his poor legs.

Value - ***
At $15, he is the same price that most Palisades single figure show exclusives have been for the last couple years. He bucks the trend of rising prices, and considering that new regular release, mass market Muppets are $10 - $12 each, depending on the store, the price is pretty impressive. While you can never say a basic action figure at $15 is a great deal, this one is certainly a solid value.

Overall - **1/2
I'll admit it - I'm being pretty harsh on poor Beaker. But what could have ranked up there with Adventure Kermit as one of the coolest exclusives of the year (another great combination of two cool properties, Muppets and Rocketeer) turned out to be far less exciting once I had him in hand.

The soft plastic, uneven legs, and tacky paint bring down a figure that coulda been a contender. Super Beaker also falls victim to the ever rising quality of other lines, and the effects of comparison with the Ren and Stimpy figures, released at the same time.

If you're a huge Beaker fan, or your not as annoyed by the soft plastic and wobbly stance, you'll probably have a higher overall score than I. I've come to expect perfection from Palisades, and they have burdened themselves with a stellar reputation. Unfortunately, when they slip, it's all the more noticeable.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - **
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - ***`
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy - 
I picked up mine through the Collector's Club, and that's what I'd recommend for you as well. If you aren't already a member, or don't want to become a member (the big benefit is that you always get the chance to buy any of the show exclusives), then you need to find a good friend who is a member, and is willing to help a brother/sister out.

BTW, the Adventure Kermit figure is also back in stock at the Collector's Club, but this is the last time. He sells out, he's done, and considering that this was one of the finest action figures of the year, you want to grab one before he's gone!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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